We met Terry, a retired Forest Ranger, at the Harris Lake campground welcome centre. When he mentioned a ghost town at Upper Works, we were intrigued. Right away, we imagined something resembling the Ghost Towns of the Old West that Curt from Wandering Time and Place has blogged about.
“Turn left at the stop sign, take your first left…then a left at…you’ll past a big furnace on the right and just after that is the trailhead to Allen Mountain. From there it’s five minutes to Upper Works.”
We decided to check it out, plus it would give us a chance to scout the parking area where we planned to hike from early the next morning — read about our trek to Allen Mountain.
While looking for the ‘Furnace’ we were both surprised to find this massive stone structure just off the access road.
“This must be it! Wow, that’s impressive, not what I was expecting at all.”
The McIntyre Blast Furnace is located north of Newcomb, New York, in the Adirondack High Peaks region near the headwaters of the Hudson River, along a desolate route travelled mostly by hikers.
The plaque on the site reads stands as a monument to the perseverance of the men who designed, built, and operated it despite harsh conditions and uncertain prospects for success. It incorporated innovative design features and was among the most technologically sophisticated charcoal-burning furnaces in the United States. Completed in 1854, it has stood on the site, with almost no care of repair, for over 150 years.
The deserted village of Adirondac (also called Tahawus and McIntyre) did not stir our ghostly imagination. Adirondac was a major iron ore mining and smelting site. Difficulties mining the ore because of impurities (unknown at the time, it was titanium) and the transportation logistics of the remote Adirondack wilderness eventually caused the mine to close. World War II brought back interest for its titanium. The remnants of sagging, sinking, abandoned buildings dotting the road leading to what is now referred to as Upper Works date back to that era.
If you admire industry, architecture and engineering ingenuity, by all means, take the time to drive out of your way to check out the furnace. As for the village, there are probably a few buildings in your town that look like it, unless you’re in this neck of the woods, skip it!